Objective: To determine the association of sarcopenic obesity with the onset of Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) disability in a cohort of 451 elderly men and women followed for up to 8 years.
Research methods and procedures: Sarcopenic obesity was defined at study baseline as appendicular skeletal muscle mass divided by stature squared <7.26 kg/m2 in men and 5.45 kg/m2 in women and percentage body fat greater than the 60th percentile of the study sample (28% body fat in men and 40% in women). Incident disability was defined as a loss of two or more points from baseline score on the IADL. Subjects with disability at baseline (scores < 8) were excluded. Cox proportional hazards analysis was used to determine the association of baseline sarcopenic obesity with onset of IADL disability, controlling for potential confounders.
Results: Subjects with sarcopenic obesity at baseline were two to three times more likely to report onset of IADL disability during follow-up than lean sarcopenic or nonsarcopenic obese subjects and those with normal body composition. The relative risk for incident disability in sarcopenic obese subjects was 2.63 (95% confidence interval, 1.19 to 5.85), adjusting for age, sex, physical activity level, length of follow-up, and prevalent morbidity.
Discussion: This is the first study, to our knowledge, to indicate that sarcopenic obesity is independently associated with and precedes the onset of IADL disability in the community-dwelling elderly. The etiology of sarcopenic obesity is unknown but may include a combination of decreases in anabolic signals and obesity-associated increases in catabolic signals in old age.